Glenstal's devastating blitz bridges 47-year gap
Glenstal Abbey 21 Ard Scoil Rís 20
Glenstal Abbey won a thriller at Thomond Park to qualify for the final for the first time in 47 years.
The jubilation at the finish was understandable but spare a thought for Ard Scoil Ris, who battled back from being 21-0 down after only 19 minutes.
Outsiders Glenstal, playing brilliant, flowing rugby, made a whirlwind start and hit the front on three minutes. Five players were involved in a move that was finished by full-back Jack O'Mahony. Ben Healy landed the conversion.
Despite the slippery conditions Glenstal continued to move the ball about. A break by Ronan Quinn culminated in hooker George Downing barging over, and Healy added the extras from out wide.
Try No 3 came from another superb piece of play involving five handlers before Luke Fitzgerald sprinted over. Healy again converted.
But Ard Scoil Ris are noted for never surrendering and they got back into the game on 27 minutes. Craig Whelan tapped a penalty 10 metres out to set up a try for Alex O'Callaghan, with Craigh Casey converting.
A splendidly taken drop-goal by Evan Cusack left it 21-10 at half-time.
Nobody anticipated that Glenstal would not score again, and Ard Scoil continued to pile on the pressure, and a Casey penalty two minutes into the second half narrowed the gap further.
Both sides had a player binned with three minutes of each other, and the drama intensified when Colin Slater scored after he blocked down an attempted clearance to set up the dramatic finish.
But Glenstal held out to book in the decider - they face PBC at Thomond Park on St Patrick's Day.
Half-backs Thanade McCoole and Healy shone for Glenstal as did Ronan Quinn, Jack O'Mahony, Sean Scanlon-Garry, Shane Downes and skipper Rory Clarke.
Ard Scoil had outstanding performances from Casey and Evan Cusack, with Roy Whelan and Colin Slater doing well up front.
Glenstal Abbey - J O'Mahony; T Molony, J Mawhinney, L Fitzgerald, R Quinn; B Healy, T McCoole; S Scalon-Garry, G Downing, E Bergin; C O'Sullivan, S Downes; C booth, M Fleming, R Clarke.
Ard Scoil Ris - D O'Gorman; C O'Reilly, C madden, G Clancy, M Gorman; E Cusack, C Casey; A O'Callaghan, C Slater F Lyons; D O'Grady, R Whelan; L Clohessy, I Brown, O Ring.
Ref - T O'Donoughue (MAR).